BAGHDAD Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declined an offer from Turkey to take part in the battle to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter in Baghdad Saturday."I know that the Turks want to participate, we tell them thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle," Abadi told reporters traveling with Carter. "If help is needed, we will ask for it from Turkey or from other regional countries." During a visit to Turkey on Friday, Carter had signaled conditional support for a possible Turkish role in the campaign and said there was an agreement in principle that could allow for eventual Turkish participation.The details on that Turkish role, however, were still subject to negotiation, Carter and other officials acknowledged at the time, and Iraq would need to agree.
By the tone of Abadi's comments on Saturday, that appeared unlikely anytime soon.Turkey has been locked in a row with Iraq's central government over the presence of Turkish troops at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul, where it has trained thousands of troops.
Erdogan has warned of sectarian bloodshed if the Iraqi army relies on Shi'ite militia fighters to retake the largely Sunni city of Mosul.The push to capture it is expected to become the biggest battle in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Mosul is about five times the size of any other city Islamic State has held.
A senior U.S. defence official on Friday said the United States recognised that Turkey had legitimate security concerns over the outcome of the Mosul campaign. (Reporting by Phil Stewart; Writing by by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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Updated Date: Oct 22, 2016 19:31 PM